Kyle Lowry back in the lineup? Check. Good start to the game? Check. Fourth quarter lead? Check. Fourth quarter meltdown and the latest in a growing list of frustrating losses? Double check.

Same old Raptors.

Now here are some thoughts on the game…

76ers 106, Raptors 98

- That fourth quarter was a disgrace. The Raptors got outscored 33-18 despite getting the Sixers into the penalty with 8:13 remaining in the period, clanked a bunch of big free throws when they did get to the line, and looked like a group of children trying to defend Philadelphia thanks to the sieve-like defensive tandem of Jose Calderon and Andrea Bargnani. Most infuriating of all, Jonas Valanciunas remained on the bench for the entire fourth quarter despite racking up a double-double without recording a foul in 25 minutes of action.

I know people will say it had something to do with Philly going small, which may very well have been the case, but let’s not pretend like this was the first time Valanciunas has sat for important stretches when he deserved to be on the floor. Dwane, you’re too good of a coach to let a lack of faith in a clearly ready rookie hurt you, so stop doing it and for the love of God, FREE JV!

- Valanciunas finished with 11 points, 11 rebounds, three blocks, three assists and just one turnover in those 25 minutes – and again, he didn’t commit a single foul – but yeah, totally reasonable to keep him off the floor when it mattered most. DeMar DeRozan was the other bright spot for the Raptors tonight, finishing with 24 points while continuing to attack the basket, though he took a couple of bad shots in the fourth quarter.

- Jose Calderon and Amir Johnson, two guys I’ve been giving due praise recently, deserve a tonne of equal venom after this game. Sure, Calderon recorded another double-double of 13 points and 12 assists, but his defence (which had improved recently) was as bad as we’ve ever seen it tonight and if you can’t realize that Jose’s clueless D played a big factor in the Raptors losing this game, you either weren’t paying attention or you have your head too far up Calderon’s ass. I mentioned in this very complimentary post about Calderon that I was sure I would have something to complain about soon with regard to his game, and he was pretty quick in giving me something.

As for Amir, it’s nights like these that remind me why I can never fully buy into the love affair so many Raptors fans have with the guy. His hustle and personality are obviously endearing, and there are plenty of nights where Johnson’s effort is a big factor in the Raps pulling out a W (and I commend him on those nights), but there are also too many games like this that his ardent supporters seem to ignore. Four points, three rebounds, six personal fouls and absolutely zero focus in about 21 minutes of action, a few of which came in an important fourth quarter stretch while Valanciunas rode the pine.

The fact that JV didn’t get back into the game adds to my frustration with Amir, and that’s not his fault, but his supporters need to start realizing that his focus on a night to night basis is far from admirable.

- Lowry was playing well in his unexpected return to the lineup and seemed to be getting stronger as the game went along…until the Raptors needed him most. Kyle missed the majority of the team’s aforementioned clanked fourth quarter free throws and wasn’t himself down the stretch (he finished an uncharacteristic 5-of-14 from the field), but the effort was there (he added seven rebounds and seven assists to his 13 points) and he was one of the only Raptors consistently digging in on defence. Toronto will need him to be better, and he will be, but this loss had very little to do with anything Lowry failed to accomplish.

- Oh hey, look, Andrea Bargnani finished with 22 points and seven rebounds tonight! Yeah, too bad it took him 21 shots to get there while he only attempted two free throws (both in the fourth quarter), and missed them both. He formed one hell of an, ummm…”defensive combination” with Calderon though.

- It’s not even that I expected the Raptors to win in Philly, but when you play such fundamentally sound basketball for the majority of three quarters, spot yourself a somewhat comfortable lead (11 points) on the road, and then still find a way to blow such a winnable game, it’s beyond frustrating, which has kind of become the word of the season so far for Raptors fans.

Of the team’s eight losses, three of them have included pathetic fourth quarter collapses. I try to avoid the whole “this team should really have such and such record instead of their actual record” talk, because every team blows leads and suffers the odd confusing loss. But 11 games in, this is getting a little ridiculous, and that’s not just a frustrated Raptors fan’s take

- I’ll try not to take too much away from the 76ers, who improved to 7-4 on the season without any contribution from the unreliable Andrew Bynum. When Philly has their fourth-ranked defence cranked up, they can compete with most teams in the NBA, which is why it’s even more important to take advantage of simple things like your friggin free throws in the fourth quarter of tight games against them.

- For the record, the Raptors have gone to the free throw line 83 times in the last three games, but have only converted on 55 of those opportunities for a paltry 66 per cent success rate. As I mentioned after Saturday’s loss in Boston, if you’re going to complain about not getting calls, then you better sure as hell hit your free throws when you finally do start getting the benefit of the whistle. The frustrating part is that the Raptors entered the three game stretch as one of the best shooting free throw teams in the league. So much for that.

Raptors Player of the Game: Jonas Valanciunas – 11 Pts, 3/6 FG, 5/6 FT, 11 Reb, 3 Ast, 3 Blk, 1 TO in 25:09

76ers Player of the Game: Jrue Holiday – 19 Pts, 9/21 FG, 1/5 3PT, 8 Reb, 12 Ast, 3 Stl, 3 TO in 39:55

The good thing after this sad sack of a loss is that the Raptors get right back at it on Wednesday in Charlotte, and they are an odd 3-1 in the second half of back-to-backs so far this season. Unfortunately, it’s going to take a hell of a lot more than just a win over the Bobcats, which isn’t anywhere near a sure thing by the way, to wash this disgusting taste out of my mouth.

Here’s hoping we all have reason to be in a better mood at this time tomorrow night, and hoping that Valanciunas gets rewarded with hard earned crunch time minutes, because I fear for my own sanity if I have to watch a fourth quarter like that again while a clearly ready and impactful JV sits inexplicably on the bench.

Until then…

Comments (33)

  1. Totally agree – with the way Jonas played tonight, I am absolutely stunned that he was never put back into the game. Just a terrible coaching decision by Casey.

    I also watched the post-game interview with Casey, and basically said that they wanted to get some shooting out there, with Andrea playing the 5 (basically to match the76ers lineup). Again, bad coaching mistake to match up with them instead of using that size advantage that they had.

  2. Yeah – its clear he was the heart when he was out there. Let the kid foul out if need be.
    Casey got out-coached by Collins, plain and simple. Play to your strengths, Collins went small and Casey went away from his strengths.
    Horrible night from Amir.
    Actually thought Bargnani had an overall good game

    • Yeah, I thought Bargs played ok, too, despite his 21 attempts. He was active on D and even came over on the help and drew a charge. I agree JV should have played more. I really like his game. While getting all angst-ridden over losses, let’s not forget his potential. He’s got a lot to learn but is playing good ball for the most part now and is fearless. Doesn’t look scared and he hustles.
      When you’re throwing blame around to Casey for his subs and to players for not hitting free throws (both legitimate), can you really blame Bargs and Jose, too? With their exact same game, if players had hit free throws and/or Casey allowed JV to at least get a taste in the 4th and maybe the Raps would have come out with a win.
      But I wasn’t as bummed by this loss because they played a lot better and I think they’re starting to get it. The 4th quarter meltdowns have to rest on the coach’s gameplan.

      • Not to pick on Bargnani, because he certainly wasn’t the worst Raptor on the court, but I really wonder what you guys are looking at when you say he played okay. Even Casey got annoyed with him at one point enough to yank him with about 5 minutes left in the game after he completely blew the rotation to help Amir after he switched to Nick Young (or Holiday) and he went right to the rim five feet away from Bargnani. And he blew a couple more after he came back in.

        That said, Calderon was even worse defensively. I usually defend him (no pun intended) but can’t tonight.

        And DeRozan did his best imitation of Monta Ellis. All scoring, no defense.

        • As usual Bargs was 3 or 4 missed wide open jumpers away from a great game.
          I just don’t think his defense is anywhere near as bad as you think.

          But staying positive – I like the direction that this team is going.

  3. with jonas’s age and the footspeed he’s displayed thus far, you wouldn’t think that he’d give up as much against a small line-up as amir

  4. That pick and roll defense in the 4th was some of the worst i’ve seen in a long time. It seemed like Holiday could pretty much do anything he wanted especially when Bargnani switched over to him and then everyone had to help when he got by Bargnani which left all the shooters open constantly.

    Some ugly, UGLY defensive sequences.

    When will this Calderon/Bargnani era end? I’m getting sick of our unsophisticated fan base falling in love with their PPG and APG numbers without realizing how much they hurt the team.

    • Agreed. Everytime you see the other team with a wide open 3 is because someone has to help Calderon after he gets beat on defence. He is more of a liability than a contributor. Hope he is traded at some point this season to get something for him

  5. Stunned that Casey glued JV to the bench. Not a smart choice and it’s about the 2-3rd time that happened in this young season.

    • I agree.. Casey is a fool.. Philly was in the penalty for the last 8 minutes and Val is a good free throw shooter as well.. WHAT A DUMB COACHING MOVE MAN.

  6. I live in the states and wasn’t able to watch the game, but I read at raptorsrepublic that Lowry (despite his effort and box sheet stuffing, i.e the usual) turned uber negative and selfish in the 4th… something about trying to rip his jersey off with 10 seconds left and just putting his head down and playing hero ball. Ugh whatever as soon as I type this, I realize that he is the least of our problems…

    JC and AB defense is bad. We all know this. But JC is what he is. AB I’m sick of and he straight up needs to come off the bench. Like starting two games ago. Maybe play him Ed Davis minutes one night (5) to send a message. I honestly couldn’t care less if that hurts his confidence or whatever at this point. As for JC, at least he tries out there and is a plus on offense.

    Really it seems this came down to Casey’s inexplicable intransigence to play JV in the 4th. WTF? Like can we make sure a reporter straight up takes him to task for that? Not just ask him why, but be like “can you explain how that makes sense? The dude is a double double machine, no fouls, can move his feet… how does this make sense? I guess if it ain’t broke… wait it is broke! What do you lose Casey by playing him?? Maybe you’ll win!” Jesus Fucking Christ. Sorry for the rant. FRUSTRATING

  7. Random question, is there any reason as to why T Ross’s playing time has been about as consistent as Bargnani?

  8. At the end of the day, Casey’s not on the court clanking shots and playing ass defense but he is the one setting the lineups and playing time. You can’t talk out one side of your mouth saying JV didn’t play because Philly went small or whatever the justification is and then put Calderon out there to play negative defense. You need a shooter Dwayne? Try Terrence Ross…wait that’d require playing a rookie in the 4th quarter…. Heaven forbid!

    • Completely agree. When philly went small in the 4th and the Raps had Calderon and Lowry out there, it made it so obvious that Terrence Ross should have been Jose’s time if only for defensive improvement.

      Eventually Fields and Anderson will be back, but these opportunities are there now and eventually we have to build confidence in the rookies that Casey will use them in crunch time situations.

  9. Just such a pathetic team in all aspects. Derozan scored, but what else did he do/provide? NOTHING. Bargnani must be the least efficient offensive player in the league this year. His D remains atrocious as does calderon’s. Lowry wasnt sharp but thats to be expected. He is still the best player on this team by a big margin which isnt saying much. Casey doesnt like val on the court in the 4th q for some reason. Instead, he prefers using an overpaid scrub like johnson to commit 6 fouls and bring no skill to the team. If they are not going to play ross, why did they draft him? Just another idiotic move by BC and co. Why is he still employed? AAArrggghhhh.

    • you know alot of people were complaining that he couldnt even score well.. so at least he is scoring now and is improving. he is also rebounding at a good rate as well.

  10. It’s pretty clear Casey has a fundamental MO against giving raw rookies crunch time minutes. He’s thinking long-term/big picture with that approach, and he’s certainly not the only NBA coach to do it.

    I’ve already re-calibrated my expectations. Let’s draft high again and move AB. JC will be expired/traded, and next year…there’s always next year.

  11. My glimmer of hope in this game was how the team distributed the ball – the dishes by JV, the one from Bargs to JC, DD-Davis-DD and so on. It seems that finally this team is starting to feel each other. Hopefully eventually this will prevent these meltdowns.

  12. You guys blame Bargnani for EVERYTHING…he’s been terrible this year, i agree, but stop saying he should be on the bench, ED, AMIR and Jonas cannot score and team don’t worry about them.

    Take a look at . The raps are -1 when Barg is playing and -9 when he sits. Opponents are doing ok against him at 14.6 PER(15.0 is average). Your wet dream Jonas is get handled 18.6 by opposing centers and then team is doing better when he sits…even Derozan scores lower than Bargs…i agree he’s been a HUGE disapointment this year, but he gets blamed for everything wrong with the team.

    • +1

      The one thing I will say is that Andrea NEEDS to hit key shots (e.g., the 2 missed free throws, open 3′s , etc). Absolutely needs to find a way to make it happen, Raps need it.

    • Andrea can’t score either and when he does it’s at a pedestrian clip.

      He’s the Mike James of big men


  13. I missed the game, but it sounds like a shit-show. I congratulate Joseph on an appropriate level of vitriol.

  14. I’m not calling for Casey’s head yet or anything, but he is clearly not adjusting well enough during games and in crunch time in particular. Philly was scoring at will in the 4th, just tearing the Raps apart and there were no adjustments.

    I absolutely hate those 2 PG lineups, even when the other team is going small. Jose is not an off the ball player so if Lowry has the ball in his hands, what the fuck is the point if Jose is a serious liability on defence? It’s not like he’s getting wide open 3s as some roaming 2-guard.

    How many motherfucking times do we have to see Jose and Bargs playing together in the 4th Q while the other team scores on every damn possession? When has this been a winning formula? Why does Casey insist on leaving guys out there who either shouldn’t be playing because they’re not playing well or they’re totally gassed because their minutes haven’t been managed properly?

    JV was arguably the best Raptor last night. You don’t sit that guy for the whole 4th when your team is getting bludgeoned out there.

  15. I’m not sure why so many fans are losing their minds. If you watch enough basketball, you’d see that this team just doesn’t have enough talent. Even when they have the lead in games, it never feels secure. It’s frustrating because they’ve lost some close games. It will only get worse with the upcoming schedule. The most disappointing thing to me is that Ross isn’t getting any playing time. If the team is gonna suck at least let JV and Ross play.

  16. Sam Mitchell said on American TV that this team would might not win 30 games, and it seems like he might be a better GM than BC. Try that one on for size. Casey AND Mitchell running the team.

    Having said that, I must say Casey’s player rotations are mind boggling to me and he just doesn’t seem as switched on as last year.

    Fans are going crazy because we’ve put up with 18 seasons of this disgraceful play, and that’s to be expected at this point. The team has been bad, there’s no defending their play or the coaching right now. When no lead is ever safe, that is the biggest indicator you’re looking at a bad team. Plain and simple.

    Now someone get on my case about how it was only 17 bad seasons.

  17. I can live with Bargnani’s inconsistency, along with Calderon’s poor defence, as long as the Raps are in the game. When the score is close and your closing out a game, Bargnani and Calderon should be on the bench. They are the reason we lost another close one. Casey is to blame and I’m not impressed with the fact that he can’t figure this out. This team needs a big fucking shake up… Calderon AND Bargnani need to be shipped out of town. The problem is that it is well documented and a known fact that the Raptors are weak because of these two guys. What team in the NBA would take on those two ridiculous contracts, and take two players that can’t be on the floor to win you games against any decent NBA opposition?

  18. It was definitely a mess of a game. Lowry was back, but clearly isn’t himself yet. Bricked every 3, only made 3 of 8 FT attempts, and his timing seemed to be off.

    JV looked pretty damn nice for a rookie. Going to enjoy watching him in the years to come.

    DD was meh, OK, but still too many shot attempts from just inside the arc. Not enough taking it to the rim. But when he did, he was getting abused royally. The refs sure looked like they were playing for the other team. But then, it has looked like this all season.

    If Lowry doesn’t miss 5 free throw attempts, you might have been calling him the player of the game. He is going to be another great one to watch. Hopefully we can lock him up for a long time and a fair price.

    Jose: Sieve. Excellent second string point guard, but Casey seems to think he should be a SG when Lowry is playing. Drives me nuts. IDK, maybe BC told Casey to play him to keep his value up. Problem is, this is killing our chances of making the playoffs.

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